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Opinion: A fall reading break would reduce student stress

Nathan Durec shares his thoughts on a potential fall reading break at Langara College.
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Reported by Nathan Durec 

Langara students deserve a break or more specifically, a fall reading break.

While the majority of Canadian universities have introduced a fall break into their course schedules, colleges seem to be lagging behind.

And Langara is one of them.

Growing needs

The need for better stress management is growing. The pressure to succeed in school, to find a career, and to live a “happy” life is leading students to higher and higher levels of stress.

There is a lot to be stressed about. Entry-level jobs demand work experience that students may be unable to attain while in school, rent increases are making many students’ living situations precarious, and this is before we even get to the pressures of family to succeed in school.

In a study published in the December 2017 Psychological Bulletin, researchers found students from Canada, the US, and the United Kingdom have had a 33 per cent increase in stress-associated perfectionist behaviours. That same study pointed to changes in parental practices brought on by a culture of meritocracy that has fuelled the build-up of stress among students.

HealthLink BC states stress can lead to physical ailments, such as pain or a weakened immune system. It can also contribute to problems with sleep, and lead to more serious mental illnesses like depression. If you’re a student struggling with a full course load, a compromised immune system, sleep deprivation, or fighting symptoms of depression, stress can become compounded.

What can be done

There is a lot that students can do to help themselves become less stressed. Talking about stress can be an important first step.

However, take a quick trip down to Langara’s counselling department and you will find a wait time of two to four weeks just to get in. By the time anyone is able to see a counsellor, the symptoms associated with stress have had that much more time to increase.

The college can do more to help out its student body and a fall reading break can be a part of this solution.

Yes, there are issues to iron out. Langara must commit to a minimum number of instructional days. The addition of a fall reading break would mean having to find other places in the schedule to make up for this loss of time in the middle of the fall semester.

However, it can happen.

When the University of Alberta implemented their fall reading break in 2014, they were able to keep the same number of instructional minutes and did not have to change their fall semester starting date.

Creating a permanent fall reading break will give students the much-needed recovery time they need to ensure they are set to succeed.

This should be the primary focus of any educational institution because when their students succeed, it makes a school a desirable place to learn. Langara should follow the example of so many other Canadian schools and implement a fall reading break so that their students get a better grip on their mental health.

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